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Garlic is a miracle food?

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Imagine you could eat your favorite garlicky pasta every day and prevent major causes of death and disability. Some proponents of garlic have made claims that garlic cures everything from the common cold to cardiovascular disease. Over the past two decades scientific studies have been conducted to prove or disprove these claims. Overall these studies have backed up the claims of a food that does a lot more that simply taste good. On the other hand, most studies have found the benefits to  be very modest. In other words, while you should not depend on garlic to save your life, it can be a part of a healthy life. Here are some of the areas in which studies have shown a benefit:

High Cholesterol

Many studies have shown a small decrease in “bad” cholesterol after 4-12 weeks. No comprehensive long term studies have been published at this time.

Anti-Fungal (Applied To The Skin)

Three well-designed studies have shown anti-fungal properties of garlic. Unfortunately, in the potency that kills fungus, garlic may cause a rash or burn.

Anti-platelet Effects (Blood Thinning)

Human studies have proven that garlic has blood thinning properties similar to aspirin. For this reason, garlic may have protective properties to the heart. Caution should be used if you are taking other blood thinning medications and before surgery.

Atherosclerosis (“Hardening” of the arteries)

Some research has shown that users of garlic supplements do not have the same amount of atherosclerosis as people that do not use garlic. Further research is needed on this topic.

Cancer

Some early studies have shown that eating unprocessed garlic may reduce the risk of some cancers including gastric and colorectal tumors. It is not clear if garlic alone provided these benefits and further research will need to be conducted.

Cryptococcal Meningitis

A preliminary study showed that garlic may be used along with other anti-biotic medications to combat Cryptococcal meningitis. Again, further research is needed to prove the efficacy of garlic in antibacterial infections

High Blood Pressure

Many studies have shown a slight decrease in blood pressure while using garlic supplements

Tick Repellant

One study showed a significant decrease in tick bites in people that used a garlic supplement. Follow-up studies are needed to prove this study’s claim.

Other Claims

Studies have been conducted to investigate several other potential benefits of garlic. These include: heart attack prevention in patients with known heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, upper respiratory tract infection, diabetes, and stomach ulcers. These studies either shown very little or no benefit and other research is needed.

In conclusion, while garlic may not be a miracle food, it does have the power to combine with a balanced diet and exercise for a healthier life.

References

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2. Andrianova IV, Fomchenkov IV, Orekhov AN. [Hypertensive effect of long-acting garlic tablets allicor (a double-blind placebo-controlled trial)]. Ter Arkh 2002; 74(3):76-78.
3. Ashraf R, Aamir K, Shaikh AR, et al. Effects of garlic on dyslipidemia in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Ayub Med Coll Abbottabad. 2005 Jul-Sep;17(3):60-4.
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9. McCrindle BW, Helden E, Conner WT. Alternative medicine — a randomized double blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of garlic in hypercholesterolemic children [white diamond suit] 661. Pediatric Res 1998;43(4 suppl 2):115.
10. McNulty CA, Wilson MP, Havinga W, et al. A pilot study to determine   the effectiveness of garlic oil capsules in the treatment of dyspeptic patients  with Helicobacter pylori. Helicobacter 2001;6(3):249-253.
11. Sabitha P, Adhikari PM, Shenoy SM, et al. Efficacy of garlic paste in oral candidiasis. Trop Doct 2005;35(2):99-100.
12. Siegel G. Long-term effect of garlic in preventing arteriosclerosis – results of two controlled clinical trials. Eur Phytojournal 2001;Symposium posters(1):1.
13. Sobenin IA, Prianishnikov VV, Kunnova LM, et al. [Reduction of cardiovascular risk in primary prophylaxy of coronary heart disease]. Klin Med (Mosk) 2005;83(4):52-55.
14. Stevinson C, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Garlic for treating hypercholesterolemia. A meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Ann Intern Med 2000;133(6):420-429.
15. Turner B, Molgaard C, Marckmann P. Effect of garlic (Allium sativum) powder tablets on serum lipids, blood pressure and arterial stiffness in normo-lipidaemic volunteers: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Br J Nutr 2004;92(4):701-706.



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